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London 2017 | A steeplechase surprise? - Faster-than-ever Praught-Leer ready to test her limit

Published:Sunday | July 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM


With a new national record checked beside her name, distance runner Aisha Praught-Leer is heading into the World Championships full of confidence in what she hopes will be a return to the 3,000m steeplechase final after her exploits at last year's Olympic Games.

Praught-Leer's 9:19.29, which she registered at the Doha Diamond League stop in May, bettered Mardrea Hyman's 9:27.21, which was set back in 2005, and makes her one of the fastest athletes in the event heading into the World Championships.

The USA-born Praught-Leer also ran 9:20.38 this year, which also shows improvement on the 9:31.75, which was her previous personal best (PB) heading into the season.

She credits the progress to several changes that she has made to her professional and personal life and believes she is stronger than ever heading into what she hopes will be another positive international championship for her.

"A lot of change went into the PB. I moved from Eugene, Oregon, up to the mountains of Boulder, Colorado, living permanently at high altitude. I got a new coach, Joe Bosshard, and I am currently training with Olympic bronze medallist in the steeplechase, Emma Coburn," said Praught-Leer.

"We have worked a ton on getting me stronger, more like a 5K runner, so that I can endure the gruelling nature of the steeplechase," she added before noting a more personal change to her life.

"Of course, I also got married last fall and my husband and I are really happy. A happy runner is a fast runner," Praught-Leer shared.


Fastest time


She will arrive in London with the 10th fastest time in the event this year and is full of confidence about what awaits.

"Running 9:19 leaves me more confident to be in the mix in the final at the World Champs. I would like to lower my PB and see how high I place," she said.

Praught-Leer, who has a Jamaican father, first represented Jamaica in 2015. She placed 14th in the final at the Olympic Games last year.

- A.L.